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CAMEL

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Camel picture
Camel biography
Formed in 1971 in Guildford, Surrey, UK - Disbanded in 1984 - Reformed from 1991 to 2003 and again since 2013

The roots of CAMEL go as far as 1964, when the Latimer brothers Andrew and Bryan form part of a band called THE PHANTOM FOUR, after gaining some fame, the band changes their name to STRANGE BREW, a when the bass player Graham Cooper reaches the band. But things were about to change, Ian Latimer and Cooper leave the band and Doug Ferguson joins.

At this point drummer Andrew Ward joins the crew and the seeds were growing in this new Blues oriented band called simply THE BREW, and at last in 1971 with the arrival of keyboardist Peter BARDENS CAMEL is officially born.

In their first period CAMEL releases four albums, the self titled debut, which was received with limited enthusiasm by the public, which lead to the change of label from MCA (Who didn't wanted to take risks) to Decca, with whom they stayed for 10 years.

Followed by "Mirage", Snow Goose" and "Moonmadness" (for many their essential trilogy), during the latest album tour, the saxophonist and flute player Mel Collins joins and leads CAMEL to a first radical change in the sound, as well as in the formation because Doug Ferguson is replaced by the Ex CARAVAN bass player Richard SINCLAIR.

With this formation CAMEL releases two albums, "Rain Dances and "Breathless", which marks for many the end of CAMEL'S golden era mainly because Pete Bardens leaves the band and the next release "I Can See Your House From Here" is considered inferior to the previous releases by the critic.

From this point the lineups constantly changes but the band still releases seven more albums received with different degrees of acceptance, until the last studio album "A Nod And a Wink" sees the light in 2002 (the same year Pete Bardens passes away) completing a large discography of 14 studio releases, 9 live albums, 7 DVD's and several box sets .

Maybe because their style is softer than most of the pioneer bands with atmospheric and light Space Rock overtones their fanbase is not as huge as the ones of the coetaneous and more aggressive bands such as GENESIS (Who in my opinion influenced CAMEL), YES or KING CRIMSON, but CAMEL is without doubt among the most respected groups, and the Latimer - Bardens duo is considered one of the most creative compositional teams.

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CAMEL Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy CAMEL Music


CamelCamel
Remastered
MSI:UNIVERSAL/UM3 2002
$5.26
$4.26 (used)
Camel- MirageCamel- Mirage
Remastered
Universal I.S. 2002
$6.05
$7.18 (used)
MoonmadnessMoonmadness
Remastered
Polygram Uk 2002
$5.85
$9.52 (used)
Rain DancesRain Dances
Remastered · Extra tracks
Decca 2009
$5.80
$10.50 (used)
Ichigo Ichie: Camel Live in JapanIchigo Ichie: Camel Live in Japan
Camel Productions 2017
$23.77
$27.25 (used)
The Snow GooseThe Snow Goose
Remastered
Polygram Uk 2002
$5.64
$4.19 (used)
Moonmadness [2 CD Deluxe Edition]Moonmadness [2 CD Deluxe Edition]
INgrooves Fontana/UMe Imports 2009
$11.85
$11.70 (used)
A Nod and a WinkA Nod and a Wink
Camel Productions 2005
$11.49
$11.48 (used)
AnthologyAnthology
Universal I.S. 2001
$5.64
$4.19 (used)
Camel: Coming of AgeCamel: Coming of Age
Multiple Formats
Camel Productions 2002
$15.36
$13.36 (used)
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CAMEL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CAMEL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.96 | 1237 ratings
Camel
1973
4.40 | 2526 ratings
Mirage
1974
4.30 | 2182 ratings
The Snow Goose
1975
4.38 | 2167 ratings
Moonmadness
1976
3.60 | 911 ratings
Rain Dances
1977
3.13 | 754 ratings
Breathless
1978
2.87 | 648 ratings
I Can See Your House From Here
1979
3.62 | 721 ratings
Nude
1981
2.61 | 468 ratings
The Single Factor
1982
3.42 | 656 ratings
Stationary Traveller
1984
3.65 | 487 ratings
Dust And Dreams
1991
3.75 | 572 ratings
Harbour Of Tears
1996
4.06 | 815 ratings
Rajaz
1999
3.95 | 659 ratings
A Nod And A Wink
2002
4.20 | 539 ratings
The Snow Goose (Re-recording)
2013

CAMEL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.33 | 394 ratings
A Live Record
1978
3.34 | 164 ratings
Pressure Points
1984
3.69 | 116 ratings
Camel On The Road 1972
1992
4.45 | 162 ratings
Never Let Go
1993
2.45 | 70 ratings
Camel On The Road 1982
1994
3.37 | 66 ratings
Camel On The Road 1981
1997
4.29 | 136 ratings
Coming Of Age
1998
3.85 | 71 ratings
Camel 73 - 75 Gods of Light
2000
3.62 | 76 ratings
The Paris Collection
2001

CAMEL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.57 | 44 ratings
Pressure Points - Live in Concert
1984
4.55 | 114 ratings
Coming Of Age (DVD)
1998
2.93 | 26 ratings
Curriculum Vitae
2003
3.95 | 48 ratings
Footage
2004
3.82 | 37 ratings
Footage II
2005
4.06 | 43 ratings
Total Pressure - Live In Concert 1984
2007
3.92 | 60 ratings
Moondances
2007
4.40 | 80 ratings
The Opening Farewell - Live At The Catalyst (DVD)
2010
4.41 | 38 ratings
In From The Cold
2014
4.32 | 24 ratings
Ichigo Ichie - Live in Japan 2016
2017

CAMEL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.01 | 18 ratings
Chameleon (Best Of Camel)
1981
3.34 | 21 ratings
The Collection
1985
3.74 | 31 ratings
A Compact Compilation
1985
2.51 | 11 ratings
Landscapes
1991
3.48 | 56 ratings
Echoes
1993
2.41 | 11 ratings
Camel (25th Anniversary Compilation)
1997
4.10 | 34 ratings
Lunar Sea - An Anthology 1973-1985
2001
4.33 | 3 ratings
Supertwister - Best
2006
4.19 | 41 ratings
Rainbow's End - A Camel Anthology 1973 - 1985
2010

CAMEL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 31 ratings
Never Let Go
1973
4.67 | 9 ratings
The Snow Goose
1975
3.45 | 10 ratings
Flight Of The Snow Goose
1975
3.87 | 26 ratings
Another Night
1976
3.50 | 17 ratings
Highways of the Sun
1977
4.25 | 8 ratings
Breathless
1978
3.50 | 4 ratings
Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine
1979
4.00 | 2 ratings
Some Exerpts From The New Camel Album
1979
2.75 | 4 ratings
Remote Romance
1979
3.75 | 4 ratings
Remote Romance (German Version)
1979
5.00 | 1 ratings
Camel In Concert No.250
1981
4.17 | 6 ratings
Lies
1981
3.75 | 8 ratings
No Easy Answer
1982
4.14 | 7 ratings
Selva
1982
3.32 | 9 ratings
Cloak And Dagger Man
1984
2.65 | 8 ratings
Long Goodbyes
1984
3.33 | 3 ratings
Berlin Occidental (West Berlin)
1984
3.75 | 4 ratings
Lies (Promo Single)
1984
4.00 | 4 ratings
Captured
1986
4.83 | 22 ratings
Never Let Go
2002

CAMEL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Moonmadness by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.38 | 2167 ratings

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Moonmadness
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by Trevere

4 stars Camel's fourth LP Moonmadness closely rivals their second one Mirage: they are similar in the fact that they both feature some of the most energetic, original and awe-inspiring compositions the group ever created, and of course both appear in their classic era, which' formation would be altered by the departure of bassist Doug Ferguson. Despite the obvious similarity in the overall vibe though, Moonmadness is also quite different. Mirage contained three vocal tracks, two of which were epics, woven around two instrumentals. This album is spread out a great deal more, the average song length being about five and a half minutes, and that makes it a smoother experience altogether.

The short Aristillus will, as is the sworn duty of any good opener, grab your attention immediately. The bumpy tune is heavy on synthesizers, creating a spacey sound that works very well and shows a new side of Camel; one that shows throughout the rest of the album as well. Another feature that starkly contrasts Mirage is the inclusion of several gorgeous melancholic tracks. The soothing flute and voice of the first part of Song Within a Song; the short and mystical Spirit of the Water; the floating atmosphere of Air Born: Camel once again takes you places.

For those looking for the more vibrant type of progressive, however, worry not. Chord Change is another classic Camel mood- changer (as its title already implies), and goes through some rockin' passages. Another Night is even better, featuring a main riff closely bordering on hard rock, some of the best vocals on the album, and, top really top things off, both a guitar and organ solo near the end of the track. The best moment is however the instrumental closer Lunar Sea (also known as Lunacy), using whacky synthesizers, aggressive bass playing and the sound of blowing wind in its last minute to wrap things up in a truly unique manner.

Without a doubt, Moonmadness is one hell of an essential progressive album, very closely rivalling Mirage for Camel's magnum opus. The group's sound is not a bit outdated, still able to amaze the ears of new listeners today. The record has a strong sense of energy, melancholy, and a unique atmosphere that truly makes it stand out, not only amongst the band's own other works, but the works of other artists in general. Sadly Camel's heyday suffered a bit of a blow after their fist four superb LP's, and even if they recovered in a few spots, those are still the absolute essentials, waiting for the devout proggie to pick them up and put them on.

 Mirage by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.40 | 2526 ratings

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Mirage
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by Trevere

5 stars The average life-span of a Camel varies from forty to fifty years. This doesn't apply in the case of this Camel, however, because Camel's second album Mirage will live inside of my heart until the day I die, and it will hopefully keep living in the hearts of many others for a long time. The fact that Mirage was written almost forty years ago, yet it manages to amaze and touch even young people like me proves that there is something special about it. Mirage is considered by most Camel's best album. According to others, Moonmadness or The Snow Goose tops it. I strongly disagree with the latter, though, because even though these albums are amazing, there is something about Mirage that makes it the absolute top.

Camel is a quite diverse band. Unlike other bands of the genre, every Camel album is unique, containing its own personal signature. Camel's eponymous debut is full of youth charm and raw power, but it's also a complete mess, seeing as the band was trying to figure out their sound back then. Mirage is an improved version of it. The songs still have much energy and power, but the band is much more mature and the sound is more Progressive Rock definite. In Mirage the band has started writing the songs together, resulting in a much greater sound. Sadly and Happily, Camel has changed their sound again and again in the next two records as well. The Snow Goose is an instrumental album, needless to say unique. Moon Madness is much more quiet and calm than the early material, and while still having a Camel style it sounds nothing like Mirage. The band went downhill quality-wise from there, leaving us with four classic albums, each one almost entirely different from the other. That leaves us with Mirage being a one-of-a-kind album; there will never be another album like it. Perhaps that's why the album struck me so hard when I first listened to it. The music was very unusual, not similar to anything I've heard before. If you hadn't until now, you must give this album a listen. It will make you re-appreciate music.

Mirage's opening track is perhaps its catchiest. I can still remember listening to it on You Tube, long back. It grabbed my attention and held me tight for its six minutes length. Unlike the rest of this album, Freefall is pure fun. This can be clearly seen by reading its incredibly silly lyrics. Peter Bardens, Camel's pianist, sung in Freefall, but he barely sings for the band. I wish it wasn't this way, though. His voice sounds joyful and carefree, as he have smoked weed before the recordings. The mirth of Freefall comes to an extant three and a half minutes in, when a melody that can only be described as elevator music is being played. That's the beauty of Mirage, it has it all. Take the second track for instance, in some parts it sounds like a ballad, and in some parts it sounds like a Scottish folk tune. Supertwister is also a showcase of Andrew Latimer's flute talent. Latimer didn't play flute on the first record, but it will play an important part on Camel's next two albums.

Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider is the album's first epic, reaching over nine minutes. It starts with a beautiful guitar/flute intro, and then turns into a kind of carnival marching music. I will always remember these first two minutes, because when I first listened to them I was shocked. The randomness and the variety of the band startled me. The song reaches its climax after the first verse. Bardens plays a beautiful yet not showy two minute long solo over a stirring funky riff. This part is very strong and emotional, and Andrew later repeats the solo's main idea in a Hard Rock fashion to make it sound even more powerful. Another great part of the song would be the ending, when a fuzzy, spacy, Black Sabbath-like bass riff is being played. To emphasize the spacy sense the organ is playing with a spacy effect and the guitar solo is extremely random and weird. The lyrics in Nimrodel are about the wizard Gandalf from the book Lord of the Rings. Many bands write songs about Lord of the Rings, and I dig these songs very much, especially when they are written well, like in Nimrodel. They remind of my childhood, when I just discovered reading and experienced a whole new world of imagination, and they pay a fantastic tribute to one of the greatest books ever.

More funk and groove is represented well in Mirage's second instrumental, Earthrise. It begins with hopeful and happy music that can really describe a sunrise, but later unfolding to become a great demonstration of Latimer's and Barden's abilities. The song has a decent amount of solos in it, and the great melodies in between keep the thing interesting. But although Earthrise is amazing, the track that comes after it is the true big deal. Lady Fantasy, cutting off at almost thirteen minutes, is considered by many to be Camel's best song. The lyrics, for start, are great. There is nothing wrong with a love song, and even though the first part of the song is kind of cheesy, it suits the music perfectly. The intro of the song is epic. Bardens plays a dreamy organ riff that is later accompanied by a heavy guitar riff. The song shifts very well between the slower ballad parts and the fast funk ones, with pretty sharp yet enjoyable passages. Three minutes in the pace changes entirely, but after two more minutes the pace slows back down without any warning. Besides changing the paces many times, every part in Lady Fantasy is written superbly, and the solos are played with passion. The beautiful acoustic melody that was played in the start of the song repeats in the end as well, creating a story atmosphere with a beginning and an ending.

The track list in Mirage is well-thought of. It soothes you in with Freefall, the catchiest and most fun song of the album, and gives you instrumental breaks between the lyrical songs. The epics are in their right places, and the longest song is saved for last. The production in Mirage is amazing, but it's even better in the Remastered version. The bass is very audible, as for most of the Progressive Rock records, and every instrument and effect sounds just right. In addition with the re-issued disc, you get a live recording of Supertwister and two other songs from Camel's debut. At the end of all this, comes the original version of Lady Fantasy, which is basically insignificant, but I find myself listening to Lady Fantasy again every time after I listen to Mirage as it is anyways. The cover of Mirage intrigued me when I first saw it. I didn't even realize it was the cigarette company's logo; it just seemed very familiar and inviting. This cover, apparently, was distributed only in Europe, because the band only made an agreement with the Europe brand. The American brand threatened with a lawsuit, and the management of the band freaked out. They immediately changed the artwork to some kind of camel-dragon, which looked good, but nowhere near the original. In stark contrast, the European cigarette brand even sold mini-packages with the albums cover to advertise the band.

Mirage is an essential Progressive Rock classic. With the releases of Genesis and King Crimson, 1974 rounds up to be an amazing year for the Progressive genre. Camel evolves from the insecure debut and becomes one of the greatest Rock bands to ever exist. Mirage is the perfect place to start with Camel, every Progressive Rock fan will like it right away from the first listen. It contains some of the bands catchiest material, like Freefall, and it also contains some of their best songs of all time, such as Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider and Lady Fantasy. If you like good music, do yourself a great favor and get Mirage as soon as possible.

 A Nod And A Wink by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.95 | 659 ratings

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A Nod And A Wink
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

4 stars As I am writing this review, this is Camel's last release of original studio material, which means "A Nod and a Wink" is already 17 years old. That is not a long time considering it was released at Camel's 30th birthday and, in spite of lineup changes, old age, and physical infirmities, the band is still active.

For the most part, this album picks up where its predecessor left. More vocals than usual, featuring thoughtful lyrics interspersed with melodic instrumental parts, a slow but refined pace, and a beautiful, emotional guitar play.

The title and opening track sets the standard for the whole album. "Simple Pleasures" has one of the most beautiful guitar solos Andy Latimer has ever come up with. "A Boy's Life" has a deceivingly slow, acoustic start, but the song gradually builds up to a dramatic guitar solo near the four-minute mark. The ending guitar and keyboard duel teaches that good soloing not necessarily means fast shredding. "Fox Hill" is a song that I've been struggling to understand and to like, but after a quite a few spins haven't simply gotten around it. The vocalization is what I dislike, the rest of it is more or less OK. "The Miller's Tale" is the shortest song of the album, with brief, meaningful lyrics and a very interesting instrumentation, with a rhythm acoustic guitar during the first half and a nice windwork on the last half. "Squigely Fair" is a fairly good track, mostly instrumental, with a very good flute solo at around its second minute on to its fourth. The downpoint is the somewhat ridiculous lyrics, but fortunately they last very little (To Andy Latimer's credit, they are in tone with the song's theme, so they don't entirely ruin the song. They are actually there on purpose). "For Today", (dedicated to the High Diver on 9/11 according to the liner notes) clocks at nearly 11 minutes and starts with Andy's deep voice over a nice piano accompaniment. 2 minutes later, the guitar steals the show for the next couple of minutes and gives way to Guy LeBlanc's keyboard solo (I would dare to say that LeBlanc is the most daring keyboard player Camel's had since Pete Bardens), which a few minutes later and after a few bass guitar strokes handles back the flag to Latimer's guitar. The song ends with a choir which reminded me very much of the post-Waters Pink Floyd, but is not necessarily impressive. "After All These Years" is a bonus track and the only instrumental track in the album: another outstanding performance by Latimer. After listening to this album for quite some time, I cannot specifically highlight one song, since all of it is very much alike. Not that it's entirely monotonous, but there are little things that stand up by themselves besides the guitar solos.

If I had been following this band my whole life throughout all its history, I'm pretty sure I would have been moved by its sentimental value (it was dedicated to the late Peter Bardens), but since I made my discovery of Camel just a little over one month ago, I cannot force myself to attune my feelings with Latimer's or even the band's core fanbase. So musically and artistically, it is a slight step backwards, a 3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars.

 Rajaz by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.06 | 815 ratings

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Rajaz
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

4 stars A different, but very interesting Camel album. Different, because there's a lot more vocals than usual, with only a couple of instrumental tracks; and the overall pace of the music is slower, and the tone, mellower.

Interesting, because it is not what I expected. Instead of a Middle Eastern sound like the name of the album suggested, most of the songs, especially the guitar work are very bluesy. Of course, there are some Arab-ish sounds every now and then, and some world music influence is definitely felt sometimes. But in general, the guitar, vocals, and lyrics are a nice blues that Andrew Latimer handled very well.

A highlight reminiscent of the early Camel is the opening track, "Three Wishes". It's a very energetic song, actually the only fast-paced track of the album. The rhythm section is tight and solid, and as usual, the guitar leads the melody in a beautiful way. "Rajaz" and "Sahara" are also outstanding, and very bluesy too. "The Final Encore" features very strong and deep vocals by Latimer, and "Straight to the Heart", very emotional, perhaps very personal lyrics and vocalization.

Personally, I give this one 4.44 stars, the maximum number of stars before having to round to five, because as good as it is, it cannot reach IMHO the level of masterpiece, but it's definitely more than merely excellent.

 Harbour Of Tears by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.75 | 572 ratings

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Harbour Of Tears
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

4 stars The Symphonic Prog Camel is back!

Although not one of Camel's essential masterpieces, an honor reserved to its early seventies work, Andy Latimer's baby is back with an excellent addition to its plethoric discography.

This time the concept is way more inspired, undoubtedly prompted by the sad passing away of Stan Latimer, Andrew's father. The lyrics and vocalization are far more refined than on Dust and Dreams, Andy's voice more fitting to the concept.

And last but not least, the music. A truly symphonic work of art, what lacks in rhythm certainly wins on melody. The instrumentation is excellent, although as with previous albums, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if performed by an orchestra, but that is just a personal taste. The little drumwork was apparently performed by a session musician, but his participation is very spare. Anyway, the concept of the album deserved the focus given on the melody, which of course borrows some Celtic sounds, in view of the Irish context of the story.

Highlights: As with other concept albums, it is not fair to single out any track, but the band itself chose to perform tracks such as "Watching the Bobbins" (I don't know what a bobbin is) and "Coming of Age", the latter not being one of my favorite moments. I certainly can point a weakness, though, which is the last track, "The Hour Candle". I was in disbelief when I saw the track list that stated an epic 23 minutes for this song; and I was ultimately correct, since after 8 or 9 minutes the only thing to be heard is the sound of waves. It's not that I don't like the lulling sound of sea surf, but it's certainly not what I expected from a 23-minute track. Anyway, that is just a minor flaw.

 Dust And Dreams by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.65 | 487 ratings

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Dust And Dreams
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

3 stars I was a teenager in the nineties, which perhaps makes me a little biased towards the music of that time. I don't mean that my favorite music is from that decade, because I favor the seventies a lot more. But the fact that I grew up in the nineties perhaps makes me find Dust and Dreams a little better than its two or three predecessors.

The concept I found it to be more interesting than Stationary Traveller. Not my favorite concept either, but interesting. As with The Snowgoose and Nude, I had to investigate the original story, since I had never read The Grapes of Wrath (English is not my native language and I am not an expert in American literature). And I must recognize that Andy Latimer did a very good job adapting the novel into a nice piece of music.

The songs, although none are lengthy epics, are to be understood within the whole concept of the album, so it wouldn't be fair to isolate them to make a track-by-track review. All I can say is that they serve their purpose well enough, some of the shorter ones serving, not necessarily as fillers, but as bridges to connect the different parts of the story. Perhaps for this reason, I am not able to highlight any specific track, but I must say songs like End of the Line, Rose of Sharon, Hopeless Anger, and instrumentals like Milk 'n Honey and Whispers in the Rain have good moments.

What really let me down in this album was the vocals. As I posted in the review of a previous album, I feel that Andy Latimer's voice fortunately improved as it matured. While it is true that vocals have never been Camel's strong point, they were gradually getting better with every release. But on Dust and Dreams, Camel (not only Latimer) took a huge step back. Take for example the signature track, End of the Line. I mean, what was Andy thinking? His voice sounds sadly unnatural, artificial. Even Rose of Sharon, which could have been a majestic song, lacked a truly powerful vocal melody, and the harmonies sound very forced and out of sync.

Too bad, since this was such a promising release. Fortunately, in the years that followed, some of the live performances that featured some of those songs would fix the vocal weakness of this album.

 Stationary Traveller by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.42 | 656 ratings

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Stationary Traveller
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

3 stars As I go forward in time with my personal discovery of Camel I have arrived to Stationary Traveller, and have become more and more convinced (I knew it before, but now I'm convinced) that this was not the decade for prog rock. And my realization of the ups and downs in this band's discography also gains more conviction.... Only that this time, the low point that was The Single Factor remained true in this album.

I cannot say I dislike this release. There are certainly some interesting moments, i.e., the title track; Fingertips (I have this weakness for fretless bass, and David Paton did a nice job on this song); Pressure Points; and some parts, especially the guitar solos on Vopos, Refugee, and maybe West Berlin. But unlike The Single Factor, and even Breathless, which had good or very good tracks that saved the day, none of the aforementioned tracks are outstanding. They are only minor outcroppings in a generally OK album.

Besides that, the concept that was the meat of this release ultimately sacrificed the quality of the music. Maybe it's just that I was too young when all this East-West push and pull was happening and now it's only history to me, but I found it rather boring, uninteresting. So I as I poured all my attention on the music, I was greatly disappointed.

I felt really bad when I considered putting this on the same level as Breathless, so I'll have to say it's good, but non-essential.

 The Single Factor by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.61 | 468 ratings

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The Single Factor
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

2 stars Contractual obligations have rarely produced a good album. Take ELP's "Love Beach" as a classic example of how the demands of a record label punish the quality of the music and strain or completely rupture relationships within band memebers.

"The Single Factor" is another clear example of this sad reality. Although in this case, the matter of relationships was not a consequence of label pressure, the quality of the music truly was. This is a mediocre album which, as Camel's official website puts it, was 'written on demand' of a hit single. No long tracks, no album concept, no outstanding musicianship (with the exception of the guitar player)... in a few words: no prog rock. At all. Even pop reviewers must feel offended by the resulting "odd mix of songs" (again quoting from the official website).

Only a few tracks save the day: the instrumentals "Selva" and "Sasquatch". Most of the other songs are not even worth mentioning because of their mediocrity. An exception would be "Manic", which I feel is Andy Latimer's failed attempt to imitate Ozzy Osborne's voice (that's what I thought: what???), so that one merits the Worst Song title.

I give this album a rating of 2 stars. Honestly, this made me rethink if "Breathless" actually merited a 1 star rating instead of 2 stars. But no, there's still "Echoes" and "The Sleeper" in that album, two very good songs in a bad album. This one has two good songs in an mediocre album. So the rating remains.

 Nude by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.62 | 721 ratings

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Nude
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

4 stars After two not-so-good albums, Camel, now theoretically reduced to a trio, came up with this conceptual work which, although I would not rate it as a "masterpiece" per PA guidelines, was definitely a step or two forward.

The concept itself, a romanticized version of Japanese soldier HIroo Onoda's story, is told in a beautiful, melodic way. Up to this point, Andy Latimer's vocals had not been the ideal complement to his music (probably the reason why "Music Inpired by The Snow Goose" was such a perfect album). But it seems to me that, as his voice has matured, so have his vocal skills. I especially like his vocals on "City Life" and "Lies" (well, there's actually only a couple more non- instrumental tracks). The music left behind (hopefully forever) that horrible Disco style that was present in the former two albums, favoring a more progressive sound, not the classic seventies prog, but the new decade's version of it.

The 2009 remaster features a live rendition of the album. I do not know if the performance itself or just the actual record is lacking a couple of good instrumental bridge sections, and a couple of sung tracks, including the aforementioned "Lies", which left me at a loss for it. But it still is a welcome thing to listen to the concept album in a live setting.

4 stars!

 Breathless by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.13 | 754 ratings

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Breathless
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars Although I won't quibble with Camel being classified as Symphonic Prog, I have to agree with some recent reviewers, who point out that, due to Richard Sinclair's presence, Breathless leans more toward Canterbury. I also appreciate judahbenkenobi's remarks on the disco elements of the album. Only a couple of tracks have much of a disco flavor, and it's pretty restrained - - nothing like what Queen ("Another One Bites the Dust") would soon release. Nonetheless, this bears little resemblance to, say, Mirage, either in style or in quality.

It seems important to point out that I like a lot of disco music, and it wouldn't bother me in the least for Camel to have put out a disco album, or even an album with a handful of disco songs - - if they were good songs, or at least if they were interesting songs. While there are some high points on some of the instrumental sections ("Echoes" and "The Sleeper" come to mind), and while Sinclair can be amusing at times ("Down on the Farm"), Breathless sounds more like the product of a contractual obligation than the result of the kind of inspiration that spawned Mirage or In the Land of Grey and Pink.

Breathless is not a bad album. However, I can't say it's a good album either, so I rate it two stars on the Prog Archives scale. Maybe give it a listen if you're already paying for it on your streaming service. Otherwise, go for earlier Camel or Caravan.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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